New Digs

Mov­ing house can be an emo­tion­ally ex­haust­ing time for pets as well as hu­mans, writes Roger Crosth­waite.

Australian House & Garden - - News -

Mov­ing house with pets.

When you’re two-thirds of the way through mov­ing day, sur­rounded by pack­ing crates, cov­ered in dust and think­ing maybe it would’ve been bet­ter to just stay in the old place, chances are your pet is think­ing the same thing.

Af­ter years of sniff­ing, mark­ing, scout­ing and se­cur­ing the perime­ter of their pre­vi­ous home, they’re sud­denly up­rooted – with­out con­sul­ta­tion – and dropped into an en­tirely new and ex­tremely for­eign en­vi­ron­ment. No won­der many pets de­cide to head back to the old home­stead af­ter a move. It must be very dis­con­cert­ing for them.

Even if they don’t run away, the stress of mov­ing may cause some pets to ex­hibit un­usual be­hav­iour, such as ner­vous dig­ging, not eat­ing the food they usu­ally love, or hid­ing and shun­ning con­tact. It’s a big thing, this mov­ing busi­ness, and peo­ple rarely take pets’ re­ac­tions into ac­count when they’re mak­ing the de­ci­sion to re­lo­cate.

There are sev­eral things you can do to make mov­ing less trau­matic for your pet and to help them set­tle in well:

Change the de­tails and phone num­bers on your pets’ mi­crochip records as soon as you know your new ad­dress.

If you’re mov­ing some dis­tance away, se­lect a new vet and col­lect any med­i­cal records from your old vet.

Make sure your pets’ vac­ci­na­tions are all up to date.

Check to see whether there are any pos­si­ble un­fa­mil­iar dan­gers – snakes, ticks, busy roads, ag­gres­sive dogs – around your new home.

To help cut the stress of mov­ing day it­self, which al­ways in­volves lots of dis­rup­tion, noise and strangers com­ing and go­ing, you could con­sider a stay for your pets in the lo­cal cat­tery or board­ing ken­nels, or leave them with friends they’re fa­mil­iar with. You can in­tro­duce them to the new place in a day or two, when you’ve man­aged to rein in the chaos a lit­tle. That way, af­ter they ar­rive at your new home, you’ll have more time to give them some love and af­fec­tion.

For cats and in­door dogs, it’s best to con­fine them to one room with fa­mil­iar toys and bed­ding for up to a week while they get set­tled in. Es­tab­lish where their lit­ter trays are and where they’ll be fed, then do your best to stick to their reg­u­lar rou­tine.

Be­fore let­ting your dog out into its new back­yard, you will need to check for any pos­si­ble es­cape routes, loose gates and holes in fences that might be tempt­ing if they want to make a break for it. Stick to their fa­mil­iar feed­ing and walk­ing times and don’t leave them home alone for the first few days, if pos­si­ble.

It may sound like cheat­ing, but pheromone dif­fusers such as Feli­way for cats and Adap­til for dogs spread calm­ing scents that im­i­tate an­i­mals’ own nat­u­ral pheromones, and are said to ease anx­i­ety in ner­vous pets. Both are avail­able on­line (feli­way.com/au, adap­til.com/au) and at pet-sup­ply stores. You could start us­ing them a few days be­fore mov­ing day, then keep it up when they ar­rive in the new home, to cre­ate a sense of con­ti­nu­ity.

As soon as you can, take your dog for a walk around their new stomp­ing grounds. Let them sniff any­thing and ev­ery­thing, and meet and greet the lo­cals, both ca­nine and hu­man. It’s al­ways re­as­sur­ing to know that you have good neigh­bours.

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